The Student Perspective on Paris Fashion Week 2022 Spring/Summer
One of the reasons I came to Paris was for fashion week. It was the goal of freshmen year to attend a singular show, and somehow, I saw two shows within five weeks of living here.
Fashion in Paris is a spectacle. It permeates the culture so much so that the standard of dressing here is almost unattainable for those without endless cash flow. During Fashion Week, that bar was raised even higher. I was adamant not to leave my house without a complete outfit and face of makeup for the entirety of the week. With designers, press, and scouts crawling all over the city, I didn’t want to risk a poor impression.
What I learned, however, is that as much as the industry is about image, it’s also way more accessible to students and young people in general than I thought.
The first show I went to was Valentino, which I saw in the standing room. This show was especially easy to see because Valentino posted the venue on their Instagram 24 hours before the show. I saw the story and went to the Paris Carreau du Temple about two hours early and had a great view of the outdoor runway. The show included so many new, vibrant aspects like neon ponchos and trench coats and some archival pieces like a tiger print coat from the 60s. Five pieces from the “Valentino Archive”, as the house is calling it, were featured in this show, which emphasized the echo we are seeing of many different decades in today’s trends. The nostalgia of these pieces resonated even with me, someone born in the 2000s, because they were styled for the modern woman and presented in a timeless French landmark.
One of the things that disappointed me in the attendance of my first fashion shows was how many people came solely for celebrity sightings. I completely understand why celebrities are invited to shows as it is some of the best and cheapest press for that designer. I still found it quite disheartening to see people crowd the area surrounding a show, especially some of the first in-person shows since Covid, waiting for a photo of an attendee and not to stick around for the show itself. Fashion Week is an opportunity to experience live art, and I really encourage people to appreciate the proximity to something as special as that.
The second show I attended was L’Oreal. Also outside but held at the Parvis des Droits de l’Homme with the iconic view of the Eiffel Tower in the background. This location’s standing room had a mile-long line, even two hours early, so I opted to try and get a seat and got incredibly lucky. The show was focused on women’s empowerment and unveiled a huge banner saying “Stand Up to Sexual Harassment” covering the runway at the end of the show. The show included a diverse range of races, ages, body types and even featured some celebrities such as Camilla Cabello. I cannot say how much I recommend going early to shows like these because even if you do not get in, watching the rehearsal is so inspiring and provides so much insight into the process of what comes to be an amazing production.
In the States, Paris Fashion Week is an abstract, unreachable event that accesses people my age through social media and magazines like Vogue where we might recognize our favorite model. Now that I live in Paris, I no longer see these shows as something so far above me that the most I can do is dress well during the week these events occur. Now, I understand how Fashion Week not only reflects but includes the city. Being in Paris is being in Fashion Week, and it is so much more possible to get close to if you remember that.